Amid rising numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the EU and migrating along the Balkan route in 2015, state, EU and traditional NGO institutions failed to adequately receive, register and care for the new arrivals. Instead, volunteers stepped in to provide humanitarian assistance. They are locals as well as citizens from other European countries who engage with the crisis for a variety of reasons, in a range of contexts and with varying consequences. This research project will examine personal motives, social structures and political conditions of volunteering for refugees in countries along the so-called Balkan route: in Greece, in Slovenia, and in former Yugoslav countries. Based on political process tracing, sociological-ethnographic observations and semi-structured interviews with volunteers, officials, locals and refugees we will devise country reports that will create the basis for a comparative study. Thus, we will interrogate whether we can witness in this refugee policies ’from below’ the creation of a particular, pro-immigration and human rights based European civil society or social movement.